The Christian Science Monitor reports that section 5 of the 1965 Voter's Rights Act is being challenged -- this section of the act requires voting districts with a history of racial discrimination to get approval before changing anything about their voting process. The case is being raised by Shelby County, Alabama, and was thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia. They're expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that since overt discrimination is virtually unheard of, it's no longer necessary to ensure the voting rights of minority voters.
The case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. In a 2009 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts raised significant questions about the constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA. In particular, he questioned the law’s reliance on old criteria that may no longer be relevant.
Some legal analysts read the comments as an invitation for states and other covered jurisdictions to file their own lawsuits seeking to overturn the provision.
“Things have changed in the South,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”
So, to clarify what Justice Roberts is saying: because, after years of proactive effort, things are now almost as good as you would expect them to be in an area with no discrimination, it is therefore not important to ensure that the county doesn't start proactively discriminating.
This is absurd, and annoyingly it's a very common argument. If a method for reducing discrimination works, it is not therefore appropriate to dismantle it. That goes for affirmative action, that goes for civil rights protections, and that goes for the Voter's Rights Act.
The whole article is available here, and if you've got an opinion on this topic I'd love to see reader comments on it.